infographic of the 10 things Finney Law Firm can do for you

10 Things Finney Law Firm Can Do For You

Often times when people think of attorneys they think of lawsuits or criminal charges and as a result that is why they need an attorney. While attorneys are needed to help you deal with lawsuits and criminal matters that is not the end of the list of what an attorney can help you with. To help you get a better idea of how an attorney can help you I have compiled this list of 10 things that Finney Law Firm can do for you. While this list is by no means an all-inclusive list it is designed to show you areas where Finney Law Firm has the expertise to help you work through a matter and save you money or save you from legal headaches in the future.

1.  Real Estate Matters

In many states in the U.S. (Ohio and Kentucky are no exceptions) attorneys are involved in many of the steps of the real estate buying and selling transaction. Often times attorneys are involved behind the scenes in reviewing contracts, legal documents, preparing title opinions and more. In certain states attorney have more hands on involvement in that any closing involving real estate is done by an attorney or under their direct supervision.

Finney Law Firm attorneys can assist individual buyers and sellers in the buying and selling process for both residential and commercial properties. As a real estate buyer you can ask an attorney to look over your offer to purchase a home to make sure it represents your best interests. Sellers may also want to hire an attorney to review any purchase offers and explain to them the requirements they will be bound by if they accept that offer. Some land purchases involve more complicated matters like mineral rights, multiple pieces of land being sold in one package, or liens by having an attorney represent picture of seller disclosure statementyou gives you get extra protection by having the legal considerations addressed by someone trained in those matters.

2.  Business Planning

Are you planning on starting a new business, incorporating an existing business, or changing the corporate structure (i.e. going from an S Corporation to a C Corporation) of your current business? Many activities related to business planning should have an attorney involved in order to make sure everything is done properly. Changing your business status from a sole proprietor to a Limited Liability Company or a corporate form without doing the proper paperwork for taxes will leave you at risk with the federal and local tax authorities. While you may have unintentionally not filed some of the proper tax paperwork that will not stop any associated penalties. By working with a Finney Law Firm attorney you can be assured all your paperwork will be properly prepared and you will be fully informed as to what each document means to you in your business.

By working with an attorney to properly prepare your paperwork you have someone who is familiar with your business and will be ready, willing and able to help you should the need arise. While you can go hire an attorney at a moment’s notice to help out with legal issues, that attorney will not be as familiar with your business as one who has been working with you on an ongoing basis. For more information on the LLC form of a business see LLC see the article Why Do You Need An LLC.

3.  Family Planning/Estate Planning


Planning on getting married soon? Do you and your spouse have assets you want to keep separate in case of divorce? While the love and bliss of courtship lead you to think the relationship will last forever things and people do change. If you or your significant other own part of a family business, own your own business, have a large sum of assets from inheritance or from earnings then it is advisable to get a pre-nuptial agreement prior to getting married. A pre-nuptial agreement is a document that can protect assets for both of the people about to be married. Unless properly prepared by an picture of fighting couple for divorce and family lawattorney and taking into account all assets a pre-nuptial agreement may not be worth much in the event of divorce. Therefore pre-marital planning should involve an attorney and the couple about to be wed. In many cases it may be best for each person to have their own attorney look over the pre-nuptial agreement to represent each person’s best interests.


Now if you are married and have kids there are other considerations to take into account. Those considerations mostly revolve around making sure your children and/or spouse are taken care of in the event of your passing. This is where sitting down with an estate planning attorney comes into play. An estate planning attorney will sit down with you and review your assets and your goals for your assets in case of death. This could involve setting up trusts for your spouse and/or children, guardianship arrangements for minor children, living wills, health care power of attorneys and more.

Depending on the amount of assets you have to give to your family and how you want to distribute those assets a trust may be a better option for you. A trust not only preserves your assets for your children it can also make sure you children still get their inheritance in the event your spouse later remarries. Inheritance can get quite complicated so it is best to talk with an estate planning attorney to make sure your assets are distributed the way you want them to be. For more information on wills and guardianship see my article How a Will and Trust Factor Into Your Estate Planning.

4.  Legal Document/Contract Review

Have you been suddenly presented with a legal document with request for signature? Do you know what the document is meant to do and how you may be legally bound if you sign the document? If you don’t know what the language is saying or how it will impact if you sign it then by all means you should be speaking with an attorney to have them look over the document and explain to you what exactly is being asked of you. Common examples of legal documents you may be signing throughout your life include documents related to the purchase and sale of real estate, purchase or sale of a business, non-disclosure agreements for work or other purposes, waiver or release of liability paperwork, settlement documents and more.

Signing any legal document without having full understanding of what sort of obligations you may face is asking for trouble. While the language may not talk in dollars and cents terms you could end up owing plenty of money if you signed a legal document and then failed to do what was required of you under the terms of the document. An attorney will be able to review your legal document document for signatureand give you an opinion on what it is asking for and what risks you face in signing the document. Don’t sign just because the person giving it to you says it is ok, get another opinion before it is too late.

5.  Labor and Employment Law

Do you run a business where you are responsible for the hiring and firing of employees? Want to make sure any terminations or hiring are done correctly and there is minimal risk of you being sued for discrimination? Or maybe you are wanting to setup health plans or retirement plans for your employees and unsure of the way to go about setting up those plans?

If you answered yes to any of the above questions then you should be talking with a labor and employment law attorney who can prevent you from taking the wrong moves which end up costing you money and more. Having an effective attorney advocate at your side assures you that you can concentrate on working on your business while any legal issues are promptly dealt with for you.

6.  Bankruptcy

Unsure if you can manage paying off your debts? Afraid of losing your house because you are behind on payments? Worried that your debts are impacting your health due to the constant stress? Or maybe health related expenses have hurt you financially. All of the above situations can be resolved through filing for bankruptcy. You will not know if bankruptcy is suitable for your situation until you sit down and discuss your situation with a bankruptcy attorney and learn about what filing for bankruptcy means.

In bankruptcy you are asking a bankruptcy court to set aside your debts under Chapter 7 (not all debts may be discharged) or to reorganize your debts into a more manageable payment plan under Chapter 13. Determining which Chapter will work best for you is a decision to be made in conjunction with a bankruptcy attorney. picture of a wallet in a viceBusinesses as well as individuals are eligible to apply for bankruptcy when they are unable to pay their debts.

7.  Taxes, Taxes and more Taxes

Unaware of what taxes your need to pay for your business? Want to pay less to the Tax Man and let your family inherit more? Own a piece of property that you think you are paying too much taxes for? All of the above are matters that can be addressed by an experienced attorney at Finney Law Firm.

Business planning involves dealing with tax matters and understanding all the tax jurisdictions involved. Not only do you have to consider federal and state taxes but there are also the city, municipality, and possibly county taxes to take into account. Miss any payments to one of these tax collecting entities and your business will be at risk. By sitting down and discussing with an attorney what your business does and where it will be performing its business your attorney can better advise you as to what taxes you need to make sure are paid.

Property tax is another big issue for both residential and commercial land owners. Property tax collectors sometimes base their tax collection rates on the overall health of the real estate market in a region as opposed to your specific piece of land. Maybe you have change in situation that has lowered the value of your property but your property taxes still remain where they were before. An attorney will be able to look at your particular situation and then prepare the proper paperwork to request that your property valuation be looked at in order to get a possible downward adjustment in value thus reducing your property tax payment.

As mentioned in item 3 above a will can help you take care of your family in the event of your passing. Wills along with trusts can also shield your assets from estate taxes that can be charged to your estate. Also known as the “Death Tax”, this tax on your wealth can be minimized depending on the amount of wealth and how you deal with it now. As each individual has their own unique asset situation a consultation with an Estate Planning attorney will help you best decide how much of your assets get caught up in the “Death Tax”.

8.  Litigation

When faced with litigation the last thing you want to do is ignore any requests for information nor do you want to provide answers without the guidance of an attorney in order to save money on legal bills. The answers and the way you answer pre-litigation questions (depositions and/or interrogatories) can make or break a case for you. Therefore it is in your best interest to answer these questions with an attorney present so they can stop you from answering questions you should not be answering. By having an attorney represent you in litigation from the beginning you are bringing along a valuable partner who not only will have knowledge of your case but also have the skills to defend you in a court of law. If an attorney has to be brought in later to a litigation matter it will usually be the case that they will have to spend more time in order to become fully informed of the situation which will cost you more than if you had hired an attorney at the start.

Whether you are being sued for something your business did, something an employee of yours did or you are suing someone who injured you the attorneys at Finney Law Firm have a great depth of picture of gavelbackground and litigation experience to assist you in your litigation matter. Finney Law Firm has successfully litigated cases related to caregiver abuse of children, business transactions, personal injury cases, failure to disclose in residential and commercial real estate matters, contract disputes and more. Finney Law Firm has won a number of cases that have went before the U.S. Supreme Court.

9.  Personal Injury

If you have been injured by someone or someplace where the situation was preventable you may want to discuss your injuries with an attorney. Especially where you have suffered losses due to being unable to go to work, out of pocket medical bills, or other pain and suffering you may be able to be compensated for those losses. A lot of this depends on how the injury occurred and whether or not someone’s negligence leads to your injury. By talking with an attorney you get a better idea of where you stand if you do wish to seek recovery for your injuries.

10.  Criminal Matters

Are you being charged with a crime? Whether that crime is driving while under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, theft or something else having an attorney represent you for the criminal trial is your right. In order to determine the severity of the charges and the amount of jail time or fines you can face you need to speak with an attorney as soon as you are able to. Facing a criminal charge is not picture of prison cellsomething you should try and handle on your own as those who will be prosecuting you are professionally trained. By having a knowledgeable and experienced attorney like those found at Finney Law Firm on your side you can be assured you will be getting the best representation possible.

Do you have any questions about the services above?

Paul Sian is a licensed attorney in the States of Ohio and Michigan.  If you feel you need the services of an attorney or have questions about any of the services named above feel free to contact me at [email protected] or via phone at 513-943-5668.  Connect with me on Twitter and Facebook.

why you need an LLC

Why Do You Need An LLC?

There may come a time when small business owners are confronted with the question of why do you need an LLC (also known as Limited Liability Company)? Is there something special that an LLC can provide to business owners that would nudge them towards getting an LLC versus operating on their own without any type of business operating form?   The biggest benefit to be had with an LLC is that of protecting ones’ personal assets from a debt or legal liability which may arise out of the business activities.

Like a corporation an LLC is a legal designation for your business. An LLC can be run by a solo business owner, as a partnership amongst different people or can even be owned by other corporations or other LLCs. An LLC provides the limited legal liability similar to what corporations have but offers the flexibility tax wise to be treated as a partnership or as a sole business owner. The federal government and most states don’t treat an LLC as a separate entity for tax purposes as a corporation is normally treated.   (For more information see

The primary benefit for the LLC as mentioned above is shielding your personal assets from legal liability for a possible wrong committed by you or one of your employees while operating the business. Say for instance you run a food based business where you prepare meals for others to purchase. If someone was to get sick after eating your food and blamed you for the illness (whether your food was the cause of the illness does not really prevent someone from suing you if they believe otherwise), they could sue you for any injury suffered as a result of the food poisoning. On the basic and not very expensive side a claim could request something basic as paying for lost work days as well as some compensation for pain and suffering. At the extreme end if a person required extensive hospitalization due to the food poisoning or death was a result, those claims in the lawsuit could be quite large and therefore expensive.

Where a lawsuit resulted in an costly claim against you and you don’t have limited liability company protection, the person suing you could seek recovery by going after your home, your cars, your savings, your kids college funds, retirement accounts and more. Even where some of your assets may be protected by state laws (homestead exemption for your home, retirement plan exemptions) the liability amount you owe does not go away unless you file for bankruptcy. What once started out as a business to help you make extra money has now become a liability that affects the money and assets you personally own. Having an LLC can limit your liability to just those of the business assets in the event of a lawsuit.

Types of Businesses Where You Would Want an LLC

As noted above a food based business in one to definitely consider having an LLC, as it is advantageous to protect your personal assets from any legal issues coming from operating that type of business. There are also plenty of other types of businesses to consider the LLC for and in fact you may want an LLC for just Food businesses need an LLCabout any type of business you run in order to have that added layer of protection. Businesses where you interact with people on a daily basis is a perfect example of where the LLC protection can come in handy.

One example of a business with regular interactions with people include cosmetic type businesses where you are applying makeup, creams, hair treatments and more on your paying customer. If someone were to have an allergic reaction to a hair dye that causes them to lose hair or suffer some sort of rash a lawsuit could be an end result. You can have all the signed disclaimers/waivers in the world to try and protect you, but if it is shown you are in some way negligent those disclaimers will not protect you.

Another business example where LLC protection is great to have is where you are driving people around or delivering products for pay.   In this case if someone were to get injured while you are driving them around or delivering something (i.e driving for Uber, Lyft or some other ride sharing company) you may be on the hook personally for any injuries suffered. While some of the ride sharing companies have insurance to cover your passengers (and maybe even cover you) they also are hoping your primary insurance covers any damage or injuries first and they will come in second to cover any claims.  A problem that could arise is your own insurance company denies coverage to you and any fare paying passengers since you did not disclose to the insurance company that you are transporting passengers in your car for pay.

Insurance and ride sharing is a complex topic that I will cover more in depth in a future article, but for purposes of this LLC article just know that if you don’t tell your insurance company that you are transporting people for pay they could deny any claims for injuries or damage resulting from your “business”. If your insurance company won’t pay, and the ride sharing company pays for only part of the claim or decides not to pay anything at all, your personal assets are at greater risk than if you had LLC protection.

How The LLC is Run is Also Important 

Properly managing and operating the LLC is also critical. If the only thing you do is fill out the LLC paperwork, send it in to your local state business authority and nothing else, you will have little to no protection for personal assets in a lawsuit. With an LLC you must keep your personal and business assets separate. That means separate bank accounts, keeping separate your business expenses from your personal expenses, separate financial records and more. If you fail to keep the LLC separate from your personal assets a judge can find that you are not operating a true LLC business thus opening up your personal assets to be used to cover any damages you may pay to settle a lawsuit.

Having insurance for you and your business is also always advisable. When talking to your insurance company you should ask them about their umbrella policy option. Make sure you inform the insurance company about what your business does and the fact that you have an LLC that needs to be covered under the umbrella. Umbrella insurance policies are good to have since like an umbrella they provide good insurance coverage for you personally and for your business activities for many different types of claims that don’t necessarily fall under your homeowners or auto insurance policies.

For tax purposes, depending on the type of LLC you have setup and how you want to run your business there may be little to moderate change come tax filing season. Ultimately the profits you earn from running your business get reported on your tax returns. Doing the tax portion correctly and using all the correct forms is one piece of evidence that shows your LLC is indeed a true business. As with anything tax related it is always best to consult with a Certified Public Account or other tax professional who specializes in helping small businesses.

Final Thoughts on LLC

An LLC is a valuable means of protecting your personal assets from potential legal liabilities of your business. While you may do everything perfectly with Protect your assets with an LLCregards to your business, that does not mean someone won’t come along and sue you. Having an LLC set up to run your business with helps ensures that you have extra protection and limits the risk that your personal assets could be used to pay for damages arising out of a lawsuit. To determine if an LLC is best for you talk to a local business planning attorney or corporate attorney in your area.

Do you need an LLC or have more questions about forming an LLC?

Paul Sian is a licensed attorney in the States of Ohio and Michigan.  If you have any questions on forming an LLC, have questions about running your business, or have some business related legal questions feel free to contact me at [email protected] or via phone at 513-943-5668.

Tuesday of this week Finney Law Firm attorneys Isaac T. Heintz and W. Z. “Dylan” Sizemore present “5 Pillars of Success” for the Anderson Chamber of Commerce.

The course addresses the foundations of business success through carefully establishing and planning the success of your business with legal strategies in corporate law, real estate law and estate planning.

A video of the course will soon be available on line.

When drafting leases, contracts and other agreements, frequently my client informs me that a key provision has been negotiated or an impasse has been resolved by making an agreement to negotiate an agreement later.

For example, the question the parties have is: “what is to be the lease rate upon a renewal in five years?”  Or, “what will be the location of a utility easement across land of the seller to serve new property being acquired by the buyer?”  And the answer the parties provide is: “will be negotiated at that time” or “we will decide at a later date.”

These answers are, of course, not answers at all.  And they constitute no agreement at all, for what if the parties fail to agree?

In the lease scenario, five years goes by, and the tenant exercises a renewal option subject to a “will negotiate the rental rate later” provision.  Then, the parties negotiate and cannot come up with an agreement.  Is the renewal effective?  If so, at what rate?  If the parties don’t set some sort of procedure (e.g., an appraiser will decide the rate) or some sort of benchmark (e.g., applying CPI inflation rate since the signing off the lease).  The “agree to something later” formulation is the recipe for conflict if not disaster.

In the easement scenario, the seller agrees to provide water, sanitary sewer and electricity easements after the closing on the property being sold, at a location to be decided between the parties. But what if the seller offers access only at a location costly and inconvenient to the buyer?  What if the buyer demands access in a location that makes the remainder of seller’s property undevelopable?  Again, without some procedure (a neutral third party will arbitrate disputes) or benchmark (as close to the east property line as practical), the agreement to provide agreed utility easements at a later date is a hallow promise and an illusory contract.

Now, if the parties trust one another, have a history of getting along, or have economic motivations to cooperate, it may make sense for parties to an agreement to “agree to agree later,” but don’t labor under the illusion that the agreement reached is in itself meaningful, binding or clear.




There are many law firms in greater Cincinnati, some special-purpose and some full-service, and there are many title insurance companies, commercial- and residential-focused.

But as a lender, as a consumer, as an investor, as a Realtor, what are the advantages to having a robust title insurance company coupled with a full-service law firm?  We think there are several.

  • First, from a real estate transactional perspective, we offer significant depth of experience and breadth of services to residential and commercial buyers and sellers, as well as lenders: closing and title services, leases, seller financing documents, and post-occupancy agreements.  We also can handle zoning and regulatory matters relating to your property.
  • Our litigators can vigorously litigate to enforce the contracts that we write and that you sign, or defend against such actions.
  • We can handle sophisticated matters relating to bankruptcy, probate administration, and the business components of a real estate transaction.
  • Finally, our property tax valuation team can assure you are not paying more in taxes than the law requires.

We strive to produce the same high-quality product and responsive customer service across each practice area of the Finney Law Firm and with Ivy Pointe Title.  We invite you to let us show you how we can “make a difference” in your real estate matters.

In contracts, leases, loan documents and other agreements, we frequently see a request that one party indemnify the other against certain occurrences.

As a simple and general proposition, indemnity provisions are ill-advised for the indemnitor.  They are open-ended access to one’s checkbook for all sorts of claims, and are usually accompanied by a duty to defend against those claims (i.e., pay for an attorney to defend a suit), whether meritorious or frivolous.  Thus, a short indemnity paragraph could lead to hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars of unexpected and unintended liability.  As a rule: Not a good idea.

Taking this concept over into the world of real estate sales, as is explained in this blog entry, Real Estate 101: Types of Deeds in Ohio, when a seller executes and delivers a warranty deed in Ohio (General Warranty Deed or Limited Warranty Deed), he is essentially providing an open-ended indemnification to a buyer of that property — and his successors down the chain of title — against certain title claims.  Among other things, a warranty covenant is a promise to defend against certain claims to the title from a third party.

Ohio Courts have ruled that the failure to provide that defense will mean the grantor must pay the attorneys fees of the grantee to so defend the title.  Hollon v. Abner, 1997 WL 602968 (Ohio App. 1 Dist., 1997).

Thus, although it is “standard operating procedure” in real estate transactions to provide a warranty deed, sellers may want to re-think that (starting with the signing of the contract as that instrument dictates what form of deed is required at the closing) and understand their open-ended exposure from a warranty deed.

While Ohio law allows individuals to represent themselves in court (pro se), non-lawyers may not represent others. This prohibition extends to non-lawyers who are the sole member of a limited liability company or sole shareholder of a corporation.

While for many small businesses there may seem to be no distinction between the sole shareholder/member and the entity itself, the law recognizes the distinction – indeed such recognition is the foundation of corporate existence – and it is important to recognize and respect that same distinction.

We recently handled a case involving two defendants, both of which were limited liability companies. The statutory agents for both defendant entities were non-lawyer members of the respective companies (perfectly legal and acceptable); and the statutory agents for both companies attempted to make “pro se” filings in the case. These filings were stricken by the Court, and treated as if neither defendant had appeared or answered the complaint in the case. Ultimately, the judge entered default judgment in our client’s favor and against the defendants.

Further, the Ohio Supreme Court has held that such attempted “pro se” representation warrants civil fines and sanctions for “unauthorized practice of law.” See Disciplinary Counsel v. Kafele, 843 N.E.2d 169, 174, 108 Ohio St.3d 283, 288, 2006 -Ohio- 904, ¶ 20 (Ohio,2006), finding a $1,000.00 fine appropriate where a non-lawyer member of an LLC made filings and attempted to represent the LLC in a lawsuit, and  Cleveland Metro. Bar Assn. v. McGinnis, 137 Ohio St.3d 166 (Ohio,2013) assessing a $6,000.00 fine for such unauthorized practice of law.

If your small business has a legal issue, hire an attorney to make sure you and your business are protected.

High-income taxpayers need to be aware of the Net Investment Income Tax (NIIT).  The NIIT is a tax passed in 2010 to help pay for the Affordable Care Act, a.k.a. ObamaCare.  Below is a summary of the NIIT, and a few planning opportunities to consider to avoid/minimize NIIT.

The NIIT applies at a rate of 3.8% to certain net investment income of individuals, estates, and trusts that have income above certain thresholds.  The NIIT went into effect for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2013.

Individuals will owe the tax if they have Net Investment Income and also have modified adjusted gross income over the following thresholds:

Filing Status Threshold Amount
Married filing jointly $250,000
Married filing separately $125,000
Single $200,000
Head of household (with qualifying person) $200,000
Qualifying widow(er) with dependent child $250,000


At this time, the threshold amounts are not indexed for inflation.

In general, estates and trusts are subject to the NIIT if they have undistributed Net Investment Income and also have adjusted gross income over the dollar amount at which the highest tax bracket for an estate or trust begins (for tax year 2014, this threshold amount is $12,150).

In general, investment income includes, but is not limited to: interest, dividends, capital gains, rental and royalty income, non-qualified annuities, income from businesses involved in trading of financial instruments or commodities, and businesses that are passive activities to the taxpayer (meaning the taxpayer does not “materially participate” in the business).  To calculate your Net Investment Income, your investment income is reduced by certain expenses properly allocable to the income. 

To the extent that gains are not otherwise offset by capital losses, the following gains are examples of items taken into account in computing Net Investment Income: (i) gains from the sale of stocks, bonds, and mutual funds; (ii) capital gain distributions from mutual funds; (iii) gain from the sale of investment real estate (including gain from the sale of a second home that is not a primary residence); and (iv) gains from the sale of interests in partnerships and S corporations (to the extent the partner or shareholder was a passive owner). 

The NIIT does not apply to any amount of gain on the sale of a personal residence that is excluded from gross income for regular income tax purposes.

In order to arrive at Net Investment Income, Gross Investment Income (items described in items 7-11 above) is reduced by deductions that are properly allocable to items of Gross Investment Income.  Examples of deductions, a portion of which may be properly allocable to Gross Investment Income, include investment interest expense, investment advisory and brokerage fees, expenses related to rental and royalty income, tax preparation fees, fiduciary expenses (in the case of an estate or trust) and state and local income taxes.

Some planning opportunities to consider to help avoid/minimize the NIIT include: (i) receiving the purchase price from a sale of your closely held business or real estate over more than one year; (ii) generating losses to offset gains; (iii) renting property to your business; (iv) lending money to your business; and (v) take an active role in your closely held business.